Home. Transitions Abroad founded 1977.  
Travel Work Living Teach Intern Volunteer Study Language High School
As seen in the Transitions Abroad Webzine

Finding Jobs Overseas on the Spot

Working in an Eco-Lodge and Guiding Tours in Costa Rica 

Eco-lodges in Costa Rica sometimes offer part-time jobs.
Eco-lodges in Costa Rica sometimes offer part-time jobs.

"Caroliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiina." I heard someone shouting my name across the river. I wiped my soil-covered hands on my overalls and wandered over to the river to peer through the trees at whoever was calling to me. It was one of the local lads who worked at the lodge up the road. He tethered his horse to a tree and wobbled over the plank we used as a bridge, waving a small piece of paper.


So began my job as a bilingual receptionist and tour guide.

I had gone to a tiny village in Guanacaste in Costa Rica in order to co-manage an organic farm with my partner. It was part of a WWOOFing venture where we were provided with everything we needed. However, after a few months, our money was running out, so the offer of a part-time job at the local eco-lodge was a blessing.

Here is an excellent example of how your knowledge of other languages and being in situ can sometimes find you the dream job you might never have discovered in over a year of trawling every Internet job website. This is a guide to finding a job without the help of the Internet.

When packing up and leaving the comforts of home for a new and unknown destination, it can be very tempting to try and set up a job before going to feel more secure. This is an excellent method to begin your working life in another country. Many websites will help you research and find leads. When applying for short-term work abroad, you may often be offered a job without an interview.

How to Find a Dream Job Overseas on Location

However, if the travel bug has hit, but you have been unable to find a job before leaving, or perhaps you are already in the country and have decided to start looking for work to increase your funds, or maybe you are already working somewhere but are not entirely happy with the situation, the chances are, if you are in a developing country, you won’t be able to jump onto the Internet and find available jobs in the local area. It’s time to go and sell yourself offline.

  • The first thing to do is identify where you can work. In my case, there was no other option but the eco-lodge up the road, as it was the only paying establishment within miles of anywhere. However, not every location is as cut off as that particular village! There will likely be some hotels, lodges, hostels, and tour guiding companies in areas where ecotourism and other modes of travel flourish.

  • Having identified potential places of work, visit each place and get yourself known (not as a binge-drinking, loud-mouthed foreigner, but as a friendly traveler living in the area)! Try and get to know the owners as well as other staff and demonstrate any language skills you have, dropping hints about the experience you may have already had in the business. This will often work wonders for you in terms of finding a job. Rather than walking into each location with a copy of your resume and asking for a job outright, getting to know the locals will win over their trust and respect.

  • If no job offers materialize immediately, now is the time to let them know you are looking for work and would be interested in working for them. Just knowing your face might be enough to convince them to give you a try. Small, local communities tend to be slightly more guarded with unknown visitors, which is why this direct method can be much more successful.
A toucan perched on a tree limb in a rainforest in Costa Rica.
A toucan in a rainforest in Costa Rica.

Speaking the Language to Find and Grow in Your Job

  • Speaking the language of the country you are in, as well as fluent English, is advantageous in any place frequented by tourists, no matter how small. And if you intend to spend time living and working in one place, trying your best to learn and immerse yourself the language is something to strongly consider.

  • I was offered the part-time position of bilingual receptionist at the eco-lodge. Over time, I was trained as a tour guide. I accompanied a Spanish-speaking guide on 8-hour horseback tours through the Costa Rican rainforest. I served as the guide’s translator for English-speaking tourists. Eventually, I was taking groups out on my own. The experience gained ultimately opened up new career opportunities in different parts of the world as an eco-tour guide.

  • The idea of going somewhere new and unknown is both terrifying and exhilarating. But no matter how cold, hot, exotic, or bizarre a place might be, human nature is the same, and most people respond positively to the same environment. If you go with the right attitude and can demonstrate this to local people, not only will your experience have more depth, but opportunities will open themselves up for you that you might never have imagined possible.

  • You will never be guaranteed to find work, so it’s essential to have a backup plan. If you are flexible, try several different villages, towns, or even regions. Talk to other travelers about where they have worked during their respective visits and ask for specific details about the best way to obtain work in the same place. But most importantly, talk to the local people — word of mouth is still the principal advertising method in many areas of the world, and sticking your name on the grapevine is easy and free!

If you do not intend to stay and live in the country for very long, it’s often easy to get work without a visa. Many developing countries are more relaxed about work regulations than places like Britain and North America. If you plan to stay longer, it might be possible for the company to sponsor you to work for them legally and obtain a work visa in this manner. However you decide to take the route of finding work on the spot, it’s a worthwhile experience that takes you a step away from being more of a traveler and less of a tourist. And the best part of it all is that there are no www’s or’s required!

Editor's note: This article is part of the series Caroline Nye has written based upon her experiences working abroad in an eclectic and adventurous mix of short-term jobs. See below for other articles on her personal odyssey.
Waking Up at Work Abroad
Guide to Finding and Accepting Seasonal Jobs Abroad
Live-In Hotel Job Abroad: Working at a Ski Resort in the Alps
Entertainment Jobs Abroad
Campsite Work Abroad
Volunteer Work on Organic Farms
Working as a Caregiver in the U.K.
The Importance of Travel Insurance Abroad
 Related Topics
Short-Term Jobs Abroad
Travel Service Jobs

Caroline Nye dancing.

About Us  
Contact Us  
© 1997-2024 Transitions Abroad Publishing, Inc.
Privacy Policy Cookie Policy Terms and Conditions California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) Opt-Out IconYour Privacy Choices Notice at Collection